Environmental racism and the fight against it

By Briana Garrett
Medill Reports

Environmental justice and food justice may seem mutually exclusive. But the two go hand in hand.

In Cook County, one in seven people are food insecure. That means nearly 750,000 children and adults in the county go hungry during parts of the year and often lack access to nutritious foods, according to the Hunger in America reports for the City of Chicago. In Chicago, the reports show that the most food insecure areas are concentrated in predominantly black and Latino neighborhoods where environmental problems add to hazards of hunger.

While access to food is a human right, these rights are often violated and linked to a  long legacy of segregationist practices in the Chicago. “Environmental racism” is a term used to describe issues of environmental inequity that marginalizes certain groups of people.

Chicago is seeing a renaissance of farming in the urban sector, and many areas plagued with food insecurity offer a home for urban farms that grow and harvest local produce, transforming vacant lots into lush gardens.

There are also new technologies that create resource-efficient ways to grow food, and many of people involved view their work as a necessary site for activism.

Listen to this podcast for an exploration of the racism involving food access and how it ties into environmentalism.

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Photo at top: Food insecurity and lack of access to food are concentrated in black and Latino neighborhoods in Chicago, according to the Hunger in America reports. (Feeding America)